Sunday, June 4, 2023

CHP Identifies Decedent of Last Week’s Willits Bypass Head-On Collision as Beloved Oregon Coast Bus Driver

Michael Lee Confer [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office]

In the early morning of Thursday, May 13, 2021, Crescent City man Michael Lee Confer purportedly drove his Pontiac head-on into a motorcycle on the Willits Bypass section of Highway 101. The collision resulted in the death of the motorcyclist. The driver has been identified as Wayne Berry of Gold Beach, Oregon by the California Highway Patrol Garberville Office.

A Facebook post from the Central Curry County School District mourned the loss of Berry describing him as a loyal employee who “will be remembered for his care for all students and staff with a special heart for the underdog.”

A press release from the CHP Garberville Office alleges at approximately 2:55 a.m. Confer was driving northbound while Berry was driving south on the Willits Bypass section of Highway 101. For reasons yet to be determined, the CHP press release states, “Confer allowed his Pontiac to travel over the yellow painted lines… directly into the path of the motorcycle.” 

As per the press release, the collision caused Berry and his motorcycle to be propelled over the side of the roadway “where they came to rest below.” Berry succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

After Confer’s Pontiac Grand Prix struck the motorcycle, the press release reports the vehicle ignited and caught on fire. The collision resulted in Highway 101 being shut down for two hours.

Confer is booked inside the Mendocino County Jail accused of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing bodily injuries, both felonies. 

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The Facebook post from the Central Curry School District said Berry had been working recently as a bus driver and an “athletic trip driver.”

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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